Last month, Main Street America interviewed three Downtown Lenoir business owners as part of the Business Spotlight: Women-Owned Businesses on Main Street series.
Main Street America talked with Jennifer Sime, owner of Doodle Bugs; Iris Bender, owner of Taste of Havana; and Heather Bryant, owner of High Country Herbs. Doodle Bugs, located at 106 Main St. NW, is a boutique specializing in children's clothing and gifts. Taste of Havana, located at 104 Main St. NW, offers authentic Cuban cuisine including sandwiches, rice and beans, traditional juicy pork, and many other old-time favorite dishes. High Country Herbs, located at 626 Harper Ave., sells their own, locally-grown hemp products including tinctures, salves, and more.
"We couldn't be more excited for these Downtown Lenoir businesses," Main Street Director Kaylynn Horn said. "These businesses were selected by the National Main Street America to represent women-owned businesses from across the country and three of them came from Downtown Lenoir. They serve as great ambassadors to our community, and we are so proud of them. This well-deserved recognition of their hard work!"
Main Street America asked Sime, Bender, and Bryant several questions about owning and operating a small business.
Q: What drew you to owning your own small business? Why did you become a small business owner?
Sime: "I grew up in this small town. My uncle owned a shoe store in our downtown area when I was young and my father was a pharmacist at the local hospital. I had 25+ years in big box retail and wanted to finally work for myself and give that small-town service to the members of the community."
Q: What do you like most about owning and running your own business?"
Bender: "I love the ability to manage every aspect of my career now. It is hard to call your own shots when you work for someone else. Proving to myself I can do this it has been very important to me. Even though many financial challenges have occurred since COVID-19, I like to think the fact that we are still open is outstanding.
Q: What challenges have you faced as a business owner?
Bryant: "2020 as a whole has been a real punch to the gut. Between COVID and massive amounts of rain, both aspects of my business have been hanging by a thread. It is just down to my husband and I now, and we find it challenging to manage the store, five greenhouses, six acres, and all my livestock. As hard as it is, it's fulfilling at the end of the day to know I harvested produce and hemp to sell to my community. CBD is great for COVID stress along with fresh eggs, green beans, and potatoes!"
Read Sime's full interview on the Main Street America website at https://bit.ly/397yonI and Bender's and Bryan's interview at https://bit.ly/3lYlyM5.
Main Street America has been helping revitalize older and historic commercial districts for 40 years. Today it is a network of more than 1,600 neighborhoods and communities, rural and urban, who share both a commitment to place and to building stronger communities through preservation-based economic development.
The City of Lenoir joined the North Carolina Main Street Program in 1984 and is accredited a 2020 Accredited Main Street America community. Accredited programs meet a set of National Accreditation Standards of Performance as outlined by the National Main Street Center. Visit DowntownLenoirNC.com.